Accessible tourism summit calls for following UAE model

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  • 100-plus destinations working to become easy to explore by disabled tourists
  •  Move to become a fully ‘accessible city’ is now a global movement
  • Arab League unveils an initiative to promote accessible tourism

Dubai, UAE:

The 3rd edition of the Dubai Accessible Travel and Tourism International Summit (DATTIS), under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman of Emirates Airline and Group, said the Arab World should collaborate with the UAE, which is a model for civilization in formulating successful strategies for people with disabilities.

This is the first major gathering of tourism industry stakeholders post-pandemic, bringing together senior decision-makers of international organisations, airports, airlines, hotels, tour operators and other stakeholders to debate the challenges, lost opportunities and future growth avenues. 

Addressing the summit, HE Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General, League of Arab States,  called upon the Arab world to follow the UAE as a good model of accessible destination and prioritise overall development with inclusion of people of disabilities in the society in coordination with their respective ministries to realize the concept of Living Independently, employment of people with disabilities and offer them decent jobs.

“Governments should accept actionable recommendations to achieve employment, tourism without borders and inclusion,” he said.

DATTIS comes on the sidelines of the 4th  edition of AccessAbilities Expo at Dubai World Trade Centre wherein more than 200 companies and rehabilitation centres from over 50 countries are participating, along with over 10,000 visitors with Special Needs and their families. 

The Arab world’s most diversified and dynamic economy took a quantum leap towards promoting accessible travel and tourism in the 22-nation region by hosting the global summit to work out comfortable ways for 50 million travellers with disabilities to explore 100-odd destinations of their choices on the planet in the post-pandemic times. 

The Summit said the tourism industry is working to have fully accessible destinations on the planet as the stakeholders bridge the gaps in the levels of services and facilities that tourists with disabilities require to enjoy their trips to their fullest to their satisfaction. 

Jamal Al Bedwawi, Advocate for the Rights of People with Disabilities, in his presentation titled ‘The World Through Our Eyes – Experiences of tourists with disabilities in exploring the destination’, said the message to the world is to do everything to overcome the hurdles faced by people with disabilities for facilitating travel without borders.

Dr. Khaled Hanafy, Secretary General, Union of Arab Chamber, emphasized the need for enhancing the role of the private sector in enabling people with disabilities live independently.  He also suggested that the Arab League should issue a guideline to be adopted by hotels, airports and public utilities to help people with disabilities to live independently.

 Daniela Bas, Director, Division for Inclusive Social Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, USA, said disabled people have the right to economic and social security and decent levels of living. 

“They face discrimination and barriers that restrict them from participating in society on an equal basis with others. Therefore, the UN member states have the obligation to adopt the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that had been ratified by 185 countries.”

She added that the world should consider people with temporary disabilities, like old age, pregnancies and obesity, to enjoy tourism, sports and leisure trips.

Experts suggested ways and means that will make a world of difference for tourists with disabilities. As it becomes more flexible and inclusive, the travel and tourism industry could ensure a better future for itself. “As they get flooded with tourists again, destinations are working to become safe, secure and easy to explore by the disabled tourists, out now in big numbers with their families and friends, contributing massively to the vibrant and dynamic industry,” the summit was told.